Monday, 30 November 2009

Radical Imam's Website Encouraged the Killing of American Soldiers

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Justifiably, much is being made in the press of FBI, Department of Homeland Security, and Pentagon investigators’ inscrutable failure to take any sort of appropriate action that may have prevented Major Nidal Hasan’s shooting spree of November 5 — when he shot 13 people to death and wounded more than 30 others at his duty station of Fort Hood, Texas.

A joint task force composed of intelligence agents from the FBI and the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security intercepted a score of emails exchanged between Hasan and an American-born, Yemen-based radical imam named Anwar al-Awlaki.

Hasan first met al-Awlaki when the latter was serving as the prayer leader at the Dar al-Hijrah mosque in northern Virginia that was attended by Hasan, as well as two of the September 11 terrorists. The paths of the two later crossed again around December of 2008 when Hasan initiated a correspondence with his former spiritual adviser requesting that al-Awlaki counsel him in matters of proper Islamic behavior and the application of true Muslim dogma to an officer in the United States Army.

The investigators monitoring the electronic missives sent between the two men determined that none of the content in therein augured the bloody violence Hasan soon would pour out without measure upon so many of his fellow soldiers about to deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan. Those tracking the trail of corresponsdence have reiterated that, at the time, they reckoned that none of al-Awlaki’s responses to Hasan’s queries contained anything that could reasonably be interpreted as "orders to kill" — or any encouragement of violence whatsoever.

Regardless of the official evaluation of the tenor of Hasan’s electronic exchanges with al-Awlaki, the purportedly passive guidance given by al-Awlaki to Major Hasan was incongruous with the brazen espousal of retribution and wholesale massacre of American forces in the name of Allah preached on the expatriate cleric’s website in the months prior to the November 5 murders of which his devotee is accused. 

The website is bi-lingual (as is al-Awlaki) and publishes pronouncements in English and Arabic. The imam’s virulence increased in the days after he was released from a Yemeni prison where he held for two years as punishment for his support of terrorists in his adopted homeland. His activity since his release from jail evinced a dramatic and dangerous shift in his interpretations of Muslim doctrine. Growing more sympathetic with the ends and means of Islamic terrorists, al-Awlaki filled the pages of his website with calls to “destroy America and all its allies” and to “implement the rule of Allah on Earth by the tip of the sword whether the masses like it or not.”

Within days after the horror of November 5, the cleric’s website went black and has remained so ever since, with the exception of tame entries musing on global issues that touch and concern the greater Islamic mission, and one wherein he praised Hasan as a “hero” and encouraged other Muslims serving in the American military to follow Hasan’s example.

Despite the apparent fearful restructuring of al-Awlaki’s once prolific and bellicose web presence, reporters from the Dallas Morning News have scoured through online archives and discovered numerous chilling entries made by the controversial imam.

One such posting uncovered by the Morning News was dated December 11, 2008. In that blog entry al-Awlaki decried any Muslim that would “serve in the armies of the disbelievers and fight against his brothers.” Curiously, this denouncement preceded Hasan’s first email to al-Awlaki by just a few days.

Another hate-filled message was posted to the cleric’s website on July 14, 2008. There, al-Awlaki again railed against any soldier who is “willing to follow orders…who sells his religion for a few dollars.” This exhortation applied to American Muslim soldiers, said the author, as well as to those soldiers in Muslim countries aiding the United States in the war against terrorism.

The sum of al-Awlaki’s internet evangelism and his unquestionable dedication to the cause of radical Islam and the deadly methods employed to promote it is a frightening figure that should have set off a deafening din of alarm bells throughout the American intelligence community that had already classified al-Awlaki as “an example of al-Qaeda’s reach” into America. Those bells never sounded, however, or if they did, they were never heeded by those whose timely response perhaps could have prevented the murders committed by al-Awlaki acolyte, Major Nidal Hasan, on November 5.

Photo: AP Images